Spring 2018 - Syllabus

Psych. 425, Human Computer Interaction

Professor - Erik Nilsen (nilsen@lclark.edu )

Room 121 Bio/Psych Building  -  Wednesday 6 - 9 p.m.

coursepack of selected readings in electronic form.

Class Moodle Page | Online Repository of Class Resources | Student Web Pages | Link to ACM Digital Library

Computing technology is radically changing the manner in which we work, play, shop, and communicate. The field of human-computer interaction (HCI) is highly interdisciplinary, bringing together researchers and practitioners from fields such as Psychology, Computer Science & Engineering, Business, Sociology, Linguistics etc. HCI researchers and developers have a common focus of creating and/or evaluating technologies which can expand the frontiers of human capabilities (functionality) while at the same time trying to match these technologies to the abilities of the people who will use them (usability).

This course will include a broad survey of many HCI topics, each studied from a psychological perspective (including cognitive, social, developmental, clinical and health psychology). We will not be using a textbook. The readings will be primarily journal articles from the fields of psychology and computer science. Reading the articles before class and being ready to discuss them and/or apply the knowledge to class projects is very important. Individual writing assignments serve as one way to evaluate your active engagement with the readings. (see below).

Reaction Papers -Before specified class sessions in which we discuss an article, you are to read it and write some comments on the article. This can include a brief summary of the stated purpose of the article, how well the authors fulfilled that purpose, and what methods they used. You can also write any questions about concepts that were either unclear in the article or which need further elaboration. If you find any connection with other articles we have discussed in class or from your own experience, include these insights as well. Each paper should be less than 3 pages and take no more than one hour to write (above and beyond the reading time).  The papers will be used to inform class discussions, and undergo peer and instructor review.

Another component of the course will be learning to author web pages following appropriate HCI design guidelines.

Use of computers, speaking and writing will be integral to this course. Projects will include:

1)  Geek Speak - On selected days, students will take turns giving a 5 - 10 minute oral presentation on some arcane computer acronym, terminology or technology relevant to the current topic.  Everyone will be responsible for 1 day and Erik will help you with a topic if necessary.  Along with the presentation you will prepare a web page to augment your presentation.

2) In-class group activities including group decision making, brainstorming and debates. Students will serve as participants, observers, and researchers in evaluating the impact of technology on psychology and vice versa.

3) For a final website project, each student will conduct an individual exploration of computer resources on the internet for a specific topic, create a web site, and evaluate several class members web sites. For example, you could study the American with Disabilities Act and design a computer system for a user with a specific type of disability. Virtual reality systems for treating phobias, wearable computers, intelligent agents, and MUD's are other possible topics. Along with the web site development, you will utilize it to lead a class exploration of your topic and revise the website afterwards based on the peer and instructor feedback you receive. Beginning on March 1st we will have 2 or 3 final project presentations each class period.

Course Schedule - The class web page is the definitive location for upcoming class topics and assignments. The class topics will evolve and change depending on new developments in the field and student and faculty interest. I will promise to give you at least one weeks advance notice on readings and assignments.
Consistent attendance and active participation in class discussion and activities is vital to the success of the class. Missing more than one class sessions will result in a significant reduction in your course grade (5% for each additional day).

At times during the semester a significant amount of out of class time will be needed to work on projects. Since some of this will use the resources only found in the HCI lab, you will have evening and weekend access to the lab when it is not being used for other purposes.  Strict guidelines will need to be followed in order to maintain the security and safety of both people and the computing equipment.

Spring 2018 Office Hours - Tuesday 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. , Wed. 5 - 6 p.m., ---  Bio/Psych #236.
Office Phone: x-7657 (leave voice mail here), HCI Lab phone: x-7656.

I have an open door policy.  Feel free to drop in at other times.  If my door is open, I am available to chat. If it is closed, I am either gone or working on a project with a deadline.  Leave a message on my white board or with the departmental administrative assistant.

Course Learning Objectives

My overarching goals for 425 are for you to acquire an understanding of the various connections between the study of psychology and the development of computing technology. The learning objectives for this class include:

1.  Explaining the value of psychological perspectives to developing and understanding the impact of computing technology by

    • Summarizing key theories, concepts and research methodologies that inform the use of technology
    • Critically analyzing the methodology and conclusions of research articles
    • Developing and piloting studies of technology from a psychological perspective
    • Contrasting differing approaches to the development and use of technology

2. Engaging in high-level discussion in response to scholarly readings by:

    • Completing readings for each class day
    • Organizing one’s thoughts in advance of speaking
    • Presenting ideas with clarity and precision in written and oral modalities
    • Engaging the views of one’s peers and the professor
    • Developing an attentive and thoughtful conversational style
    • Leading a productive classroom discussion

For the web site development project specific goals include:

3. Demonstrate independence and intellectual maturity in the production of knowledge for an academic audience by:

    • Using online databases and search engines to conduct a comprehensive search of the research literature and on a topic of interest within human computer interaction.
    • Creating a well-organized and coherent web site following the guidelines provided in the class
    • Developing a 60 minute class presentation with readings, discussion questions and activities that introduces their classmates to the topic they have chosen.
    • Providing constructive feedback to their peers concerning their web sites and class presentation
    • Incorporating peer and instructor feedback to revise and improve the web site.
    • In both the web site and oral presentation, articulating theoretical and applied significance of their chosen topic


Course Schedule and Assignments



Day & Date


W Jan. 17

Introductions, Acronym Game and Overview of Final Website Project. Examples from past classes.

Can Virtual Reality Make You a Better Person?

Gamification: Productivity, Self-Improvement, and Pro-sociality through Crowdsourcing

Technological Treatments for Depression

The Uncanny Valley in Robot-Assistred Therapy

Introduction to HCI and Quantified Self Technology

Quantified Self is the buzzword that is most often used to describe the use of wearable and sensor based technology used to help people with personal goals of measuring and improving their health and change behaviors. We will be exploring this intriguing topic through 3 technological tools spanning physical health (Fitbit Activity Trackers), mindfulness and emotional health (Wild Divine biofeedback devices) and cognitive health (Lumosity brain training games). Here is an intriguing video talk by a QS researcher on Quantified Self and Mindfulness where she is wearing what looks like christmas tree lights that turn on when she smiles!

Articles to Read BEFORE class time!

As We May Think, Vannevar Bush (1996). Interactions, March, 1996, 35 - 46.

This is a classic paper written by a visionary thinker whose ideas have inspired many of the people who have shaped the development of computing. Just read it and be ready to begin a discussion in class.

For an interesting example that embodies some of "the associative trails of the Memex" take a look at the WikiPedia project.

Redefining "Computers" shown in Hidden Figures movie. Here is an impressive display of computing power!

The whiteboard: the joy of sex psychology, Daryle Gardner-Bonneau, 19 - 22, Interactions, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2001)

For Class Discussion - Can you think of any habitual or "superstitious" behavior that you (or people you know ;^) engage in when using a computer? Reflect on your own experience and ask some friends! Try to come up with several poorly designed, difficult to use computer tools that could benefit from a little psychological analysis!

Understanding the Human Machine. Deborah Lupton, 25 - 30, IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE | winter 2013

For Class Discussion - This Introduction to the Quantified Self movement is thought (and hopefully discussion!) provoking. What do you think about the author's position concerning the foundational concepts of Neoliberalism, the Body-Machine Metaphor and "Prosumption" as they relate to how people track their health and behavioral data with this new generation of technology? Along with looking at the technological viewpoint, be ready to discuss the political and ethical aspects of how personal data are generated, stored, and interpreted.

W Jan. 24

History of Computing and Human Computer Interaction

User Technology: From Pointing to Pondering, Stuart Card and Thomas Moran (1986), Proc. ACM conference on history of personal workstations, Palo Alto, ACM 183-198.

Reaction Paper (due by class time, posted up on the moodle) This paper, written by two of the researchers who helped create the field of HCI gives an early view of the positive role that scientific psychology can play in the development of usable computers. Summarize their arguments in several paragraphs. Do you find their arguments to be persuasive? What areas of psychology are the authors focusing on? Finally, take your best shot at describing what is going on in the Model Human Processor (Mr. BubbleHead) shown on page 186! All together this should be a 1500 - 2000 word reaction paper.

Psychology as a Mother of Invention. Thomas K. Landauer. CHI '87 Conference Proceedings Paper, 333-335. 

For class discussion and small group work- Consider the list of "intellectual tasks" that Landauer presents in the last page of this article as being ripe for development in 1987. Which of these are now in existence in 2015? What other "cognitive computer tools" have emerged in the ensuing 28 years? Come up with at least 3 new items you would add to the list for developments in the future? 

Also read the article that I handed out at the end of class last week and be ready to discuss it and analyze the experimental methodology to identify what they did right and wrong. Can you find the fatal flaw (confounding variable) that calls their conclusion about causality into question! The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology. Russell Clayton et. al. (2015) Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.


Interesting Wiki Page on Perceptual Affordances and HCI

And a humorous video of affordances gone very very wrong!

The Norwegian Book Interface Video!

1981 Personal Computers let you read Newspapers online!!!

An honest to goodness "modern" book interface project in 2007!





W Jan. 31

Cognition and HCI: Cognitive Modeling to Improve Software Interaction and

Brain Training Software to Improve Cognitive Processes

Cognitive Modeling (GOMS, KLM and Kin!)


Do the KLM analysis That I passed out last class period and e-mail Erik (nilsen@lclark.edu) a spreadsheet with your calculations before you read the Neilsen and Phillips Paper.

As we discussed last week, One thread of research in HCI is to apply principles and findings from Cognitive Psychology to help design software that matches our cognitive abilities and maximizes efficiency. I have 2 papers for you to read that span a 20ish year period of progress in this Cognitive Modeling Approach.

This first one features LC students in the first ever HCI class that I taught at LC using their new knowledge of the KLM model to compete with experience Human Factors Professionals to see who can come up with the best predictions! Would I assign it if we didn't come out alright!

Jakob Nielsen and Victoria L. Phillips. 1993. Estimating the relative usability of two interfaces: heuristic, formal, and empirical methods compared. In Proceedings of the INTERACT '93 and CHI '93 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '93). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 214-221. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/169059.169173

This second article is a very recent study that uses a more sophisticated Cognitive Model called EPIC and explores ways to improve the model to deal with visual search in modern interfaces.

David E. Kieras and Anthony J. Hornof. 2014. Towards accurate and practical predictive models of active-vision-based visual search. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3875-3884. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557324

Reaction Paper (due by class time, posted up on the moodle)Briefly (500 wordish each) summarize the goals, methods, and findings of each paper.  In another 500 words or so, contrast the approaches of these articles and what changes and developments do you see in these papers compared to the original Card and Moran paper that your read earlier that introduced you to this type of modeling from 1986?

Brain Training: Hype or Hope, Fact or Fad?

Each of us now has a Lumosity account. Your Experiential homework is to do the brain training workout at least 4 days before this class period! Be ready to discuss what you like and do not like about the games and this approach to training your mind!

The whole class will be reading a short Editorial and a lengthier Review Paper to get an overview of Brain Training Research and Development.

Here is one more really good Meta Analytic Paper that was just published this month!

Shah, T. M., Weinborn, M., Verdile, G., Sohrabi, H. R., & Martins, R. N. (2017). Enhancing Cognitive Functioning in Healthly Older Adults: a Systematic Review of the Clinical Significance of Commercially Available Computerized Cognitive Training in Preventing Cognitive DeclineNeuropsychology Review, 1-19.

be ready to discuss these 3 papers at the beginning of class


Internet Search Moodle assignment.

I also want each of you to find one empirical study from 2015 or later that purports to find support for the benefits of Brain Training and another study that fails to find evidence for Brain Training benefits. Try to be selective choosing two articles that look at one type of cognitive ability (working memory, peripheral attention, creative problem solving) or a particular user group (e.g. preschoolers, brain trauma patients, Austistic kids, Dementia patients) on our moodle page. I want you to include a link to the articles and write a couple of paragraphs summarizing the research and its findings and critiquing them. Which study do you find more convincing and what other evidence is needed to really prove that brain training can help this ability or this group of people.



Wed. Feb. 7


The Social Psychology of Computer Use - 

Are Computers People too!?!

Clifford Nass has a radical idea that he has been studying for over a decade, people respond to computers as if they were people too! These 5 articles follow the development of his research program over a 13 year period. Read them and be amazed (and maybe a bit incredulous 8^).

Computers are social actors. Clifford Nass, Jonathan Steuer and Ellen R. Tauber, Pages 72 - 78, CHI 94 

Can Computer Personalities Be Human Personalities?Clifford Nass, Youngme Moon, BJ Fogg, Byron Reeves, & Chris Dryer. Pages 228-229, CHI 95 short papers.

Does computer-generated speech manifest personality? an experimental test of similarity-attraction. Clifford Nass and Kwan Min Lee, Pages 329 - 336, CHI 00 

Thank You, I did not see that: In-car Speech Based Information Systems for Older Adults by Ing-Marie Jonsson, Mary Zajicek, Helen Harris, Clifford Nass. 1953 - 1956. CHI 2005, Late Breaking Results.

Electronic Helping Behavior: The Virtual Presence of Others Makes a Difference.Carrie A. Blair, Lori Foster Thompson, and Karl L. Wuensch. BASIC AND APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 2005, 27(2), 171–178.

Similarity is More Important than Expertise: Accent Effects in Speech Interfaces. Nils Dahlback, QianYing Wang, Clifford Nass and Jenny Alwin, Pages 1553 - 1556, CHI 07 

Reaction Paper - List the social rules that these papers claim to find evidence for in how people interact with computers? For each one, do you find the results and the authors interpretation compelling? Why or why not? Consider some social psychological finding,theory or social rule other than the ones discussed in the readings, (here is a resource containing an extensive list) that could be studied using Clifford Nass's Computers are social actors (CASA) research approach to human computer interaction. We will design a study or two in class tonight inspired by the readings.

Clifford Nass research featured on PBS show on Computer-Based Voices



Social Comparison, Self Esteem and Social Media.

Article 1:
Facebook and Self-Perception: Individual Susceptibility to Negative Social Comparison on Facebook


  1. Social comparison theory states that we partly base our self-perceptions in relation to how we are doing compared to others, but that happier people process social information differently. So does Facebook and increased social comparisons create two polar opposites, those who are unhappy and have low self-esteem and those who are happy and have high self-esteem? Or is there a middle ground as well?
  2. Do happy people also feel the negative effects heightened of social comparisons because of Facebook, as they feel the need to upkeep their positive image?
  3. Can teens differentiate between identity on social media sites and identity online?

Article 2:
Social Comparison, Social Media, and Self-Esteem


  1. Is self-esteem now tied to social media practices?
  2. Is it harder to teens to develop a unique identity when they are constantly comparing themselves to others?
  3. In what ways are self-esteem and self-worth becoming quantifiable on social media?


Linking Both Articles:

  1. Since social comparison is so high now thanks to social media, does self-esteem now always require validation from others?
  2. Is there a real sense of self being formed or does it remain a constant battle to appear happier than others in order to satisfy social comparison?
  3. Is social media increasing self-esteem for anyone? Or is everyone constantly reminded that people are happier than them, making it almost impossible to maintain a positive self-esteem?


Wed. Feb. 14


Developmental Psychology Perspective in HCI


User Interfaces for Young and Old. Maddy D. Brouwer-Janse, Jane Fulton Suri, Mitchell Yawitz, Govert de Vries, James L. Fozard, Roger Coleman. interactions magazine, march/april 1997, 34 - 46.

Dev Psych "Interwebs" Assignment. Due by class time Wed. Feb. 14th

Search the internet for information regarding computing and the following groups: 1) Senior Citizens (55+), (2) Children (16 and under).

- Create a Web page on your Web Site that contains at least 6 annotated sources (link with a sentence or two describing the contents of the linked pages) for each age group (a total of 12 links minimum). Among your links, try to include at least one from each of the following categories;

  • Organization focusing on computing issues related to the age group,
  • Software designed and targetted for the age group,
  • A research paper related to computing and the age group.
  • a mobile or tablet-based app targetting the age group
  • chat rooms, blogs, SNS or discussion forums designed specifically for the age group. 

A Tasty Selection of Age-Targeted Studies For Your Mental Palate

Give and Take: Children Collaborating on One Computer. (html page) Kori Inkpen, Kellogg S. Booth, Steven D. Gribble and Maria Klawe. CHI '95 Conference Proceedings Short Paper, 258 - 259.

Guernsey, L. (n.d.). Can Your Preschooler Learn Anything From an iPad App? Retrieved February 1, 2015, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/05/interactive_screen_time_for_kids_do_educational_ipad_apps_teach_toddlers_anything_.html

HeartBeat: an outdoor pervasive game for children. Magielse(2009)

Nostalgia: an evocative tangible interface for elderly users. Nilsson(2003)

DanceAlong: supporting positive social exchange and exercise for the elderly through dance. Keyani(2005)

Social yoga mats: designing for exercising/socializing synergy. Nagargoje(2012)

Final Project Idea Forum (Post initial idea on Moodle by Tuesday Feb. 13th)

Here is where you will post your topic for your final project.  For this initial posting, provide a title for your potential topic, a paragraph where you talk about your initial ideas for what you plan to explore and some initial online resources that you have identified that are relevant to your topic.  A good topic will have connections to psychology and user interface design, have at least some empirical research and available information about the theory and development that relates to it.

I also want you to include links, citation information and an abstract for at least 2 journal or conference paper articles that relate to your topic.

Here are links to 2 final project pages from previous classes.

Children and Technology  https://sites.google.com/site/karmarosemacias/welcome

Virtual Reality: Prosocial Behaviors http://virtualrealitycfranco.weebly.com/



Wed. Feb. 21

Clinical and Abnormal Psychology

Franz Gravenhorst, Amir Muaremi, Jakob Bardram, Agnes Grünerbl, Oscar Mayora, Gabriel Wurzer, Mads Frost, Venet Osmani, Bert Arnrich, Paul Lukowicz, and Gerhard Tröster. 2015. Mobile phones as medical devices in mental disorder treatment: an overview. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 19, 2 (February 2015), 335-353. DOI=10.1007/s00779-014-0829-5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00779-014-0829-5

Accompanied by an eclectic collection of articles on the diagnosis, treatment, and impact of technology on mental health.

Manifestation of Depression and Loneliness on Social Networks: A Case Study of Young Adults on Facebook

Emotion Map: A Location-Based Mobile Social System for Improving Emotion Awareness and Regulation

Empath: A Continuous Remote Emotional Health Monitoring System for Depressive Illness

Automated Social Skills Trainer

We will also have a round robin show and tell session of Apps that you have found and tried out for some aspect of mental health monitoring, education or treatment. Each of you find one an post it and a brief description on the class Moodle Page Forum called "There is an App for That DSM Diagnosis". Look to see that no one else has posted the App the you found. Each person needs to find a unique one. (First Find and Post claims ownership!).


Also before class tonight, look at the two website project proposals below yours on the Final Project Idea Forum and give a substantive and useful reply to their idea with feedback and questions for them to consider and resources that you might recommend to them.

Wed. Feb. 28

Cyborg Psychology and Brain Computer Interfaces!



Wed. Mar. 7

CHIFOO Field Trip!


CHIFOO is the Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon. CHIFOO (pronounced ‘ky - FOO’), Computer-Human Interaction Forum Of Oregon, a local professional chapter of the ACM SIGCHI, serves practicing professionals, academics and students in the Oregon and Southwest Washington region through lecture series, workshops and networking in the areas of User Experience, Usability and Interaction Design.

Humanizing Technology For The Betterment All

Elizabeth BaconDevise Consulting

In this talk, Liz will use the breadth of her professional background and core design practices to expound on the fundamental responsibility we have in HCI fields to humanize technology for the betterment of all. Her deep experience in user research, interaction design, product management as well as entrepreneurship all reflect her passion for solving wicked problems and ensuring that we’re making the world a better place through our work.



Wed. Mar. 14

Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)


Wed. Mar. 21


Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)

Wed. Mar. 28

Spring Break!

Wed. Apr. 4

Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)


Wed. Apr. 11


Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)



Wed. Apr. 18



Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)


Wed. Apr. 25

Student Led Final Website Presentations (2-3 per night)


Wed. May 2

FINAL Exam Period 6 - 9 p.m.


Nilsen's Search Engines and Document Repositories of Choice

ACM Digital Library

The source for most of our class readings, free downloads of full text files from on campus

Tech Encyclopedia

A place to search for the meaning of those Computer Acronyms and "Geek Speak" terminology

Acronym Finder

A 2nd site for elucidating High Tech obfuscation 


ACM TechNews

News article summaries and links that can serve as stimulus ideas for your Web Site Project


Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction

HCI Index

HCI Specific

Erik's 15 minutes of Fame in Cyberspace. My research is reported in Wired News online edition.